by Randy Reynolds

“The number one thing we need in a salesperson is looks—we want a sales force of good-looking women,” said the Harvard MBA that a Bear-Sterns-financed group called Opus sent to run the multiple radio stations they bought in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 2004. 

Although I disagreed, I could see his point. What car dealer or furniture store manager wouldn’t be tempted to invite a drop-dead gorgeous radio sales rep into his office to see what she had to offer?  And once she got her Manolo Blahniks or Christian Louboutins in the door, voila!, she could use her talent and training to close the sale.  That might work. To a limited degree. In the short term.

But my way was better. The number one thing I looked for in a salesperson was the willingness to “Do The Right Thing Everyday. No matter the result, just Do The Right Thing Everyday and the result will eventually take care of itself.”

And the Right Thing, no matter where a salesperson ranked on the 1-to-10 scale of physical beauty, was to be persistent. Do The Right Thing Everyday. Keep trying. Do The Right Thing Everyday.  Never give up. Do The Right Thing Everyday.  Don’t worry about results—the results will take care of themselves if you  Do The Right Thing Everyday.

The best salespeople I’ve ever worked with could never have gotten a foot in the door at a station with Opus’ hiring philosophy—and I mean no disrespect for the young and beautiful for they can be great salespeople, too, if they can Do The Right Thing Everyday.   

The greatest salespeople I’ve ever worked with included the bald and the blind, the old and the wrinkled, the overweight and the rumpled, the Abraham Lincoln profile, and the guy that drooled constantly as an after-effect of shooting himself in the head back in the day when he didn’t know that he didn’t have to worry every day about success and failure, immediate results, temporary setbacks, and goals that were beyond his control.  He would never have fired that shot into his own brain if he’d just known to Do The Right Thing Everyday and let the results take care of themselves.

His name was Henry.  Luckily for Henry, I wasn’t committed to hiring just young, beautiful women.  I hired Henry and gave him a track to run on that required nothing more than to Do The Right Thing Everyday. I helped him keep his focus on that and eventually great results came cascading in!

Epilogue: My disagreement with the Opus hiring plan mattered little because, unbeknownst to me, my ticket out the door had already been punched, with my salary slated to return to the bottom line.  When the boss-to-be broke that news to me in a late night phone call saying, ("Paying your salary is not part of our business model so don't come to work tomorrow"), I didn’t know what I would do next, but I was confident that if I did the Right Thing Every Day, the result would take care of itself.